The Holdovers

The Holdovers ★★★★

I was bought into the retro-Ashby vibe of this anachronistic indie production as soon as I saw the trailer, and the movie itself fulfills everything the marketing promises. It sparkles with two titanic performances from newcomer Dominic Sessa and of course Paul Giamatti, whose turn suggests that here yet again is another role that he alone was born to play. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who rounds out the principal cast, is almost as good, bringing genuine life to the part of a grieving mother that, in almost any other film, would have been drenching with clichés. The trick here is that director Alexander Payne fully understands the inner sadness of these characters and the painfully, often hilariously inept methods through which they surface those pains, and he renders it on screen with acute nuance, invoking deep, rich empathy for all of them without once resorting to cheap, unearned histrionics. This is really a triumph.

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